The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGB) is going above and beyond to prove the organisation is serious about protecting online players, this week releasing a new enforcement strategy to help identify and combat online operators who breach gambling regulations.
The new strategy is a result of the UKGB’s consultation on the Statement of Principles and Policy Statement that was conducted between January and April this year. The consultation ran for 12 weeks, during which time the Commission received 21 responses from industry bodies, local authorities and other undisclosed respondents.
An analysis of the responses revealed some key themes emerging across the board. Respondents challenged the Commissions consumer focused rationale, saying the emphasis on putting the consumer first was not consistently executed despite being part of the Commission’s statutory licensing objectives. Requests were made for an explanation of what putting the consumer first actually means and for clarification of what the Commission if referring to when saying something is in the public interest.
In response, the UKGB’s new strategy states the Commission will support a “consumer first culture” by examining how operators comply with the spirit and regulation requirements of their licenses. The Commission aims to have an industry culture “where if something goes wrong, an operator recognises the consumer impact, quickly informs us, and swiftly implements an effective remedy, prioritising the interest of those affected.”
The key changes in the new enforcement strategy include:
- Changes to the Commission’s statement on financial penalties, with the introduction of higher penalties for breaches, particularly where there are systemic and repeated failings
- Putting all regulatory tools, including licence reviews on an equal footing by removing the current bias in favour of settlement
- Using time-limited discounts to create better incentives for early settlement
Gambling Commission Chief Executive Sarah Harrison said, “We will use the full range of enforcement powers to ensure operators put customers first and raise standards.
“The industry can be assured that we will use our powers in a targeted way, and consumers and the public can be assured we will take robust and effective action when gambling companies don’t meet their obligations.”
The new enforcements follow recent releases from the UK Gambling Commission regarding new money laundering regulations and a rise in standards and new conditions for online operators. The Commission has published new guidelines surrounding the Remote Gambling and Software Technical Standards, with operators given until April 2018 to ensure the updated requirements have been implemented.